13 Ways to Explain What a Copywriter Does (Specifically, a Digital Copywriter)

“I’m a copywriter.”
“Cool!”
“Yeah.”
“So…what’s a copywriter?”

Like many copywriters, I have this conversation on a regular basis. People have thought I copyright things, or underwrite them, or put them in a Xerox machine and press “Copy.” Close, but no. That’s…just…no.

Aspiring digital copywriter, mid-brainstorm

Understanding copywriting gets even trickier when you realize how many of us don’t write TV ads and billboards anymore. Yes, a copywriter might write for traditional media, but we’re more likely to be found thinking about usability, conversion and interaction these days. So how do you explain what a copywriter does? Or, more specifically, a digital copywriter? Here are a few ideas for you, my fellow writers:

  1. I write ads. Follow-up answer: No, I don’t do jingles.
  2. I write ads for websites, websites and websites for ads. Follow-up answer:  No, I don’t write code. Just what the user sees.
  3. I do Peggy’s job on Mad Men, but with more technology and less booze.
  4. I conceptualize digital experiences and write the pitch, proposal, emails and final text that bring ’em to life.
  5. I use words to persuade and sell. To my colleagues, I sell concepts and campaigns. To the public, I sell products, services, trends, feelings, ideas and movements.
  6. I communicate complex concepts as simply as possible.
  7. I collaborate with designers and developers to create the messaging that goes with any good user experience. (Pro tip: don’t mention the IAs, UXAs, PjMs, ADs and CDs. That might confuse people.)
  8. I’m in charge of the words, everywhere and anywhere, on the site.
  9. I tell stories in a quick way and small space.
  10. I speak for the brand, as the brand. My work dictates what that voice sounds like.
  11. I write headlines, subheads, body paragraphs, the words on buttons, interactive quizzes, navigation items and the automatic text that appears when you click “Share on Facebook.” I also wrote “Share on Facebook” and the content you are currently sharing on Facebook.
  12. I think a lot (and write a little) about what entices, delights and intrigues people.
  13. I spread ideas and watch them grow.

BONUS TIP: If your grandma asks again, just say you work on the computer. Totally, 100% true.

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